STUFFED ZUCCHINI

Fi has used Ronde de Nice zucchinis for this recipe, which are a round French heirloom variety. You can quite easily substitute the Ronde de Nice with other zucchini varieties, just make sure they're not too big. 

makes 6 as a starter or part of meze meal

6 Ronde de Nice round zucchinis (tennis ball size) 

150g beef mince

¼ cup (30g) cous cous

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 garlic clove, crushed with sea salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves

¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

½ teaspoon sea salt

sauce:

1 cup (250m) tomato passata

1 cup (250ml) water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

sea salt, to taste

Slice across base of Ronde de Nice, to sit flat.  Using a teaspoon scoop out flesh, leaving about 8mm thick shell, being careful not to pierce skin. Finely chop the remaining flesh.

To make the filling, place chopped zucchini flesh, beef mince, cous cous, allspice, mint leaves, parsley leaves and salt in a bowl.  Mix with hand until thoroughly combined.

Fill each zucchini two thirds full with stuffing mixture. 

Meanwhile, place the passata, water, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and 250ml water in a saucepan just large enough to hold the zucchini sitting side by side.  Bring liquid to the boil.  Place zucchini stem side up in the saucepan and spoon over tomato mixture, to baste.  Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with lid and cook for 25 minutes, basting halfway during cooking time.  Transfer Ronde de Nice to a serving dish.  Simmer remaining cooking liquid for another 10 minutes to reduce by a third. Season with salt, if necessary.

Delicious, served warm or at room temperature.

Serve with Greek style yoghurt mixed with chopped fresh mint.

Tip: Stuffed zucchinis can be prepared a day ahead.  Store in an airtight container with cooking liquid in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature to serve.

Recipe, photos and styling by Fiona Hammond. www.fionahammondfood.com   

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Mark Brancatisano